NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Rangers took a double shot in the
mouth from their Long Island rivals. If they don't win the Atlantic
Division, they might feel the sting well into the playoffs.
If that wasn't bad enough, NHL scoring leader Jaromir Jagr was
cut by the stick of Islanders forward Shawn Bates and needed
stitches in the third period. No penalty was called because referee
Paul Devorski told Rangers coach Tom Renney he didn't see it
Jagr will recover, but the question remains whether the Rangers
will after losing a chance at key points against an also-ran team.
The Rangers have already clinched their first playoff berth
since 1997 and are trying for their first division crown since the
Stanley Cup-winning season of 1993-94.
Coupled with Philadelphia's 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh on
Tuesday, the Rangers' lead over the Flyers was cut to three points.
New York has three games remaining -- including one at Philadelphia
on Saturday -- while the Flyers will play four in the final week of
If they don't win the division, the Rangers might start the
playoffs without home-ice advantage.
"Everybody wants to be a spoiler, especially with the
Rangers," said rookie defenseman Chris Campoli, who also scored
for the Islanders. "It's special to beat them anytime, especially
in the Garden. It's something that we haven't done a whole lot
After the Rangers lost their first two games with the Islanders
this season, one in overtime, they won five straight to finish a
15-game stretch against their top rivals 12-1-1-1. But they fell
behind 3-0 in this one and couldn't bounce back, even with a
season-high 24 shots in the third period that produced two goals.
Satan gave the Islanders the lead less than 6 minutes in, and
stretched the advantage to 3-0 with his team-high 33rd goal during
a second-period power play -- less than 7 minutes after Campoli
DiPietro, who made 20 saves Saturday in the Islanders' 5-0
victory over Washington, lost his bid for a second straight shutout
when Michael Nylander brought the Rangers to 3-1 at 3:02 of the
They cut the deficit to one when Prucha scored a power-play goal
during a two-man advantage with 7:52 left, but DiPietro held off
the charging Rangers -- who still had more than a minute remaining
with a man advantage and outshot the Islanders 38-30 overall.
Because a fourth straight postseason appearance is out of reach
for the Islanders, who have won two straight after a six-game
losing streak, they would like nothing more than to wreck the
"When you're already out of the playoffs, you need to find to
certain things to motivate you," DiPietro said. "I thought we did
a good job of stressing the fact that this is a huge rivalry for us
and we owe it to our fans and ourselves to come out and put in a
The Rangers started fast in the opening minute, sparked by the
pregame ceremony honoring Jagr, who broke the club records for
goals and points in a season.
They had three shots in the first 60 seconds but recorded only
four more in the final 19 minutes of the frame. The Rangers trailed
1-0 to the Islanders at home for the second time in six nights.
There would be no comeback this time like the one on Thursday when
the Rangers beat the Islanders 3-1.
Since then, the Rangers struggled to an overtime victory
Saturday at Boston -- when Jagr netted his Rangers record 53rd goal
-- and blew a third-period lead in a loss at New Jersey on Sunday.
In the final minutes, DiPietro extended his glove, blocker and
pads to fend off the late rally that almost netted the Rangers the
tying goal several times.
"Too little, too late," Renney said.
Mariusz Czerkawski was the last Islander to reach 33 goals,
when he had 35 during the 1999-00 season. ... Jagr had two assists
to bring his season total against the Islanders to six goals and 12
assists. ... The Rangers are the first NHL team to have a rookie
goaltender with 30 wins (Henrik Lundqvist) and a rookie scorer with
30 goals (Prucha). ... The Rangers were without top defensemen
Marek Malik (shoulder), Darius Kasparaitis (groin) and Tom Poti